Wisconsin Reports Lowest Number Of New COVID-19 Cases Since Late November

7-Day Average Of New Cases, Percentage Of Positive Tests Continue To Trend Downward

person wearing a facemask while dining indoors
A person wears a face covering to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at a restaurant, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Portland, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty/AP Photo

New reports of COVID-19 cases are lower than they’ve been since late November in Wisconsin, based on the latest data published by the state Department of Health Services.

DHS reported 1,826 new cases of the disease Sunday, bringing the average for the past seven days to 2,915 daily cases. Saturday’s case total is the lowest number of daily cases reported since Nov. 27, when there were 1,300 new cases of COVID-19. The seven-day average of daily cases is the first time it’s been below 3,000 since Oct. 18, when that figure was 2,840 cases.

There were 18 new deaths from COVID-19 reported Sunday. On Sunday, 5,867 tested negative.

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Of the people who got tested for COVID-19 over the past week, 26.9 percent were positive for the disease, according to DHS. That rate has been steadily declining.

The positivity rate is often read by public health officials as a measure of overall testing levels. A high rate could indicate that testing in the state is limited, and skewed toward those already flagged as potentially having COVID-19. A lower rate could indicate testing is more widespread. Changes in the test positivity rate can also speak to COVID-19’s spread, if the size and makeup of the testing pool stays consistent.

On Sept. 30, DHS also introduced an alternative positivity rate, one that measures the percentage of tests that are positive, instead of the percentage of people who get a positive result. The new metric takes into account people who have been tested multiple times. The seven-day average for that number is at 9.4 percent.

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association, there were 1,274 COVID-19 patients hospitalized as of Saturday. A total of 20,120 people have been hospitalized because of the disease, or 4.4 percent of all positive cases.

The latest figures bring the overall total of positive cases in Wisconsin to 457,177, according to DHS. A total of 4,417 people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19.

COVID-19 activity varies from county to county. The latest activity data from DHS, released Wednesday, showed 17 counties had a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity, while 55 were listed as having a “very high” level of activity. Waushara, the lone county at only a “high” level last week, is again at “very high.” The number of Wisconsin counties at a “critically high” level of COVID-19 activity has been on the decline. Wisconsin’s overall level is “very high” for the second week in a row.

COVID-19 activity designations are based on the number of new cases per a county’s population over a 14-day period, as well as whether there’s an upward or downward trend in new cases.

As of Dec. 17, all seven of Wisconsin’s regions had “very high” levels of activity. That’s an improvement for two of Wisconsin’s regions — the western and southeast regions — which had “critically high” levels of activity last week.

Wisconsin’s daily testing capacity — based on the availability of test supplies and adequate staffing — has grown from 120 available lab tests in early March to 59,165 as of Sunday. The number of actual people with new test results reported Sunday was 7,693.

A total of 2,751,375 people have been tested over the course of the pandemic. Of those, 2,294,198 have tested negative.